Baby love: A beginner’s guide to paraphilic infantilism

Paraphilic infantilism is a rare sexual paraphilia where individuals typically get sexually aroused from being a baby (and is commonly referred to as ‘adult baby syndrome’). Some websites claim that the condition also goes under the name of ‘autonepiophilia’ but the sexologist who coined this particular paraphilia (Professor John Money) described the condition as particularly relating to ‘diaper fetishism’ (i.e., people who get sexually aroused from wearing nappies). At present, infantilism does not appear in any diagnostic psychiatric texts in its own right (such as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-IV]). However, as Dr Joel Milner, Dr Cynthia Dopke, and Dr Julie Crouch note in a 2008 review of paraphilias not otherwise specified (NOS):

“Although infantilism is classified as sexual masochism in DSM-IV it is questionable whether the criteria for sexual masochism are always met. For example, if the infantile role playing does not involve feelings of humiliation and suffering, then the diagnosis of sexual masochism would not be appropriate and a diagnosis of infantilism as paraphilia NOS is warranted”.

Infantilists often wear nappies, may drink from a baby bottle and/or be wet-nursed (sometimes simulated), crawl about the floor, have baby baths, eat baby foods, play with baby toys, be spanked, and may roleplay and regress to an infant-like state. There may also be some crossover with other sexually paraphilic behaviour including masochism (as they may enjoy being spanked and/or humiliated), transvestism (as they may like to be dressed in baby clothes of the opposite sex, the so-called “sissy baby” syndrome), urophilia (as they may enjoy urinating in their nappies), coprophilia (as they may enjoy defecating in their nappies), and lactophilia (as they may enjoy being breast fed).

Up until 1980, there were only three published case studies on infantilism all in the American Journal of Psychiatry between 1964 and 1967. Malitz reported a case of a 20-year-old college student who had a compulsion to wear nappies underneath rubber pants and defecate in them (although did not see himself as an adult baby). While defecating he would typically reach orgasm even if he didn’t masturbate. Tuchman and Lachman reported the case of a father who was arrested for molesting his young daughters. Like the first case, he wore rubber pants over his nappy and enjoyed urinating and masturbating in it. Dinello reported the case of a 17-year-old male who in his mid-teens started wearing nappies under his clothing, drank from baby bottles, and ate baby food, and masturbated while wearing the nappy. He eventually, gave up wearing nappies and began dressing in women’s clothing. In a 1980 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, Pettit and Barr published the case of 24-year-old man who began dressing in female clothes at the age of 10 years and by the age of 15 years began to dress as a baby and developed a fetish for nappies.

In a more recent issue of American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr Jennifer Pate and Dr Glenn Gabbard presented a case study showing many similarities with the earlier published case studies. Their case study was a 35-year-old single man who wanted to be a baby since the age of 12 years and he began wearing nappies at age 17 years. His nappy wearing had started to compromise his interpersonal relationships. Wearing nappies was “a kind of a sexual thing” and he masturbated while wearing the nappies. He only ever masturbated while wearing nappies, and also urinated and defecated while wearing them. He wore and used up to five nappies a day. Pate and Gabbard concluded that the object of sexual arousal was the nappies and that the behaviour was a paraphilia. More specifically, they said:

“Adult baby syndrome is still a new entity for psychiatrists, and there are undoubtedly variations within the syndrome. [One of the cases said] that he wanted someone to ‘make him be a baby’ evokes images of the sadomasochistic scenarios enacted by a dominatrix and her clients. Indeed, a significant number of middle-aged men seek out dominatrices to spank them, punish them, and tell them that they have been ‘a bad boy’. The wish to be treated as a baby is probably a spectrum condition that has many manifestations involving men, women, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals”.

Other recent case studies have noted different etiological pathways into infantilism with childhood sexual abuse and transgender issues being apparent common factors among a number of published case studies. In a 2003 issue of the journal Sexual Abuse, Lehne and Money reviewed the case of a man with changing fetishes (transvestic fetishism, paedophilia) who in the final analysis described himself an adult baby (aged 45 years). In 2004, Croarkin and colleagues reported a case in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Here, a depressed 32-year-old male engaged in behaviours that included getting sexual arousal and gratification from wearing nappies and becoming a baby. The authors suggested that the infantilism may have been related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Two years later in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Evcimen and Gratz reported the case of a 25-year-old male who wished to be a 10-year-old girl although it is debatable whether this case would really be classed as infantilism.

The most recent case (2011) of ‘adult baby syndrome’ was reported by Kise and Nguyen in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. They outlined the detailed case a 38-year-old biological male who preferred to be identified as a female (and referred to him as ‘she’ throughout their paper). For the previous two years, she slept in a crib (rather than a bed), drank from baby bottles, sucked on dummies, and engaged in baby talk (and had wanted to be a baby since her early thirties). She suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system) and had been a paraplegic since the age of 13 years following a complication from a tracheotomy. She was sexually abused as a child and had attempted suicide 28 times. Kise and Nguyen concluded:

“Perhaps desiring the identity of a baby is an entity all in itself, just like Major Depressive Disorder or Schizophrenia…This does not represent a new phenomenon…In some instances, [Adult Baby Syndrome] seems to represent a paraphilia. [In this case] she specifically denied sexual pleasure…her primary intent seems to be one of gaining attention and additional care, freeing her from adult responsibilities. Further investigation into the connection and potential co-morbidity between ABS and Gender Identity Disorder may lead to interesting findings”.

One of the few surveys (from an unpublished PhD thesis on the topic by Dr Thomas Speaker) reported that infantilists are typically male, employed, in their late thirties, well educated, and in stable sexual relationships. However, no-one knows how representative of infantilists the survey was. The two criminologists Stephen Holmes and Ronald Holmes have claimed that infantilism may involve an elements of stress reduction similar to some of the symptoms of transvestism.

Nothing is known about the incidence or prevalence of infantilism, and there is no consensus on the etiology of infantilism but has been linked to maladaptive learning in childhood, faulty childhood imprinting, and erotic targeting errors. For others, the sexual element may be downplayed. Such individuals may want to be gently nurtured, seek attention, be cared for and/or surrender their day-to-day adult life responsibilities.

One of the reasons so little is known about infantilism is that adult babies do not want to cease engaging in their behaviour. For most adult babies, their behaviour doesn’t constitute a medical condition that requires treatment or cause any functional impairment, personal distress or distress to others. Those who do end up seeking psychological or psychiatric help may do so because another individual (such as their sexual partner) encourages or forces them to seek help.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Croarkin, P., Nam, T., & Waldrep, D. (2004). Comment on adult baby syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2141.

Dinello, F.A. (1967). Stages of treatment in the case of a diaper-wearing seventeen-year-old male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 124, 94-96.

Evcimen, H., & Gratz, S. (2006). Adult baby syndrome. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 115–116.

Holmes, Ronald M.; Holmes, Stephen T. (2008). Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behavior. New York: Sage.

Kise, K. & Nguyen, M. (2011). Adult Baby Syndrome and Gender Identity Disorder. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 857-859.

Lehne, G. K. & Money, J. (2003). Multiplex versus multiple taxonomy of paraphilia: Case example. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 15, 61-72.

Malitz, S (1966). Another report on the wearing of diapers and rubber pants by an adult male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 122, 1435-1437.

Milner, J.S. Dopke, C.A. & Crouch, J.L. (2008). Paraphilia not otherwise specified: Psychopathology and Theory In Laws, D.R. & O’Donohue, W.T. (Eds.), Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment (pp. 384-418). New York: Guildford Press.

Money, J. (1984). Paraphilias: Phenomenology and classification”. American Journal of psychotherapy, 38, 164–179

Pate, J. & Gabbard, J.O. (2003). Adult baby syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1932-1936.

Pettit, I., & Barr, R. (1980). Temporal lobe epilepsy with diaper fetishism and gender dysphoria. Medical Journal of Australia, 2, 208-209.

Speaker, TJ, Psychosexual Infantilism in Adults: The Eroticization of Regression, Sausalito, CA: Columbia Pacific University (Unpublished PhD thesis).

Tuchman, W.W. & Lachman, J.H. (1964). An unusual perversion: the wearing of diapers and rubber pants in a 29-year-old male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 120, 1198-1199.

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. In 2013, he was given the Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 800 research papers, five books, over 150 book chapters, and over 1500 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 3500 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on March 28, 2012, in Compulsion, Gender differences, Obsession, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Paraphilia, Psychiatry, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on lifeasadiaperedmother and commented:
    A blog I found in another blog

  2. “Different Loving” by Gloria and William Brame and Jon Jacobs has an excellent chapter on this subject.

  3. There’s also a book on Amazon “theres a baby in my bed!” which takes a different tack on this and doesnt call it a paraphilia but rather regression.

  4. Think I need help… Sucking on a binky only may be sending me into subspace

  5. My boyfriend likes to wear kids pull-ups in a meens to “relax”. When we first started seeing each other he would make jokes about men wearing diapers conclude he wasn’t like that and say he was ” weird”. I would laugh and wonder and try to dismiss it,until the next joke . Well as time went on he eventually started sending me pictures of himself in women’s underware ,then of himself in “big boy diapers” . I soon realized that this was no joke at all!!! I confronted this issue in the most sensitive manner I could and seemed to be at bay as he said he didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable or make me do anything I wasn’t “into”. We moved in together and as you guessed it ,it didn’t take to long before this ugly reared its head again .
    I have enough of my own issues and baggage on top of having a son that decided to sexually assault his 5 year old little brother ,all of which my boyfriend is aware of but is seemingly unable to stow away what should be delt with in therapy and not forced onto any women
    My conclusion is people dealing with this mental/sexual disease should get professional help and keep that shit between them and their shrink!
    Please email me with any subjestions or feed back…I could use it!

    • It is not as simple as you or Dr Griffiths suggests. It is in fact NOT a sexual issue or paraphilia but one of deep regression, specifically to the infant or baby level. I would recommend visiting and getting some good resources on the topic.

      This is something that can be managed and dealt with happily and successfully. Note that I do NOT mean it can be removed or ‘cured’. It can be managed.

  6. I have a friend who has parafilic infantilism, but it only goes to the extent of drinking from a sippy cup, speaking and giggling like a toddler, sucking on a pacifier, and ocationally dressing up. She describes her it as this little space she goes to in her head for confort. I’d like to know how to address it and deal with it. i want her to perhaps form another way to confort herself. I

    • My first thought is to wonder why you would ant to change how she comforts herself at all. Given the more common ‘comforts’ of drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuity, a sippy cup and pacifier is pretty tame. Deep regression CAN be a problem to some, but this is very light and not even infantilism as such. That’s a useless term anyhow. The more accurate one is Adult Infantile Regression.

      Your friend is fine. Leave her alone.

  7. I just really would like to help her

  8. Insightful comments. In my own case I still suck pacifiers ( orthodontic NUK 5 size) and would say that I like to make love to women where lactation is present. However, I can achieve orgasm without the partner lactating (I am a straight male) and I do not take part in any other AB activity. My current partner accepts that I use a pacifier (not when we are in company) & and that as a part of our relationship I access lactating prostitutes (which are very rare in this country – I live in the UK) who are often associated with the AB/DL scene.

  9. The world is a very peculiar place! That’s what makes it interesting, but habits or beliefs such as these are not mainstream, and represem a pathology. I’m always interested to see fetishists such as baby outfit obsessors when they desperately try to ‘normalise’ what they;’re doing. Fine, go ahead, put a nappy on, and even shit in it, but please don’t pretent, or try to make us think that your fetish is acceptable. To the vast majority of people and society overall, it’s a sickness. Personally I think it’s the result of a deep-seated identity crisis, and severely arrested development at a certain age in child hood.

    • Lola, please don’t pretend or try to make us think it isn’t acceptable. To anyone who isn’t a horrid hateful person and actually knows what they’re talking about, it’s completely healthy and on the tame side if anything. Do you pathologize sexual orientations as well? You and everyone else who thinks like you are the ones who are sick. Go get that hatred of yours treated.

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